More women employed in later life

More women employed in later life

The number of older people in the workplace has increased, with the rate of women employees doubling in twenty years, according to the latest trends report published by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The 10-page report published on 11 October, titled Economic labour market status of individuals aged 50 and over, showed 48.5 per cent of women aged between 60 and 64 were employed in 2018, compared with 23.4 per cent in 1998.

The male employment rate for 60 to 64 year olds increased by 14.3 percentage points from 46.1 per cent in 1998 to 60.4 per cent in 2018. 

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In the younger age bracket of 55 to 59, the employment rate for women jumped from 52.5 per cent in 1998 to 70.7 per cent in 2018.

In 2018, the average age of exit from the labour market for females was 63.9 years, compared with 60.3 years in 1986.

The average age for males exiting the labour market was 65.1 years old in 2018 compared with 63 in 1986.

Helen Morrissey, pensions specialist at Royal London said: "[These] statistics show large increases in the number of older workers in the workplace.

"There are several reasons behind this trend, for instance, changes to state pension age will be one factor behind women staying in work longer.

"Rising divorce rates for women aged over 50 can also provide huge financial upheaval and prompt many women to remain in the workplace."

She added: "However, it is also important to remember there will be many other women remaining in work for longer because they want to and it is good to see the UK workplace offering them the flexibility to do so."

Tamsin Caine, head of financial planning at Smart Financial, said that the increase in employed women aged 60 to 64 was partly down to the changes made to state pension age

"In general people are healthier and living longer, they don’t necessarily want to spend 30 years in traditional retirement," said Ms Caine. 

"We find with our clients that retirement has become less of a hard stop and more of a change of direction or a reduction in the number of days and hours spent at work.

"It is also as a result of the change in state retirement age for women, as there would have previously been income into the household from the state which needs to be replaced."

David Hearne, director and wealth management planner at Satis Wealth Management, agreed.

He said: "More women are working across all age groups compared to 20 years ago and occupational pension schemes, which can be the greatest source of retirement income also have higher normal retirement dates now."

But he added: "I don’t think retirement is the measure of success it once was. 

"The main aspiration of my clients used to be to retire as early as possible. However I don’t see this as much now, many more people now work for enjoyment, to make a contribution or just to have something to do. Particularly part time, as retirement has become more of transition than a fixed date on your sixtieth or sixty-fifth birthday."